Peter Lord and Gurinder Chadha Peter Lord and Gurinder Chadha

British director Gurinder Chadha (pictured at top with Peter Lord) will direct a family feature inspired by Bollywood cinema for Aardman Animations.

The family film will be a musical about a young elephant from the jungles of Kerala who dreams of becoming a Bollywood dancer. Chadha is co-writing the script with Paul Mayeda Berges under the banner of their production company Bend It Networks. The project, which is in advanced development, will incorporate Indian voice talent, musicians, and designers.

Chadha, who is of Indian descent, often focuses on Indian communities in England in her films. Her works include Bend It Like Beckham and Blinded by the Light, which New Line acquired for $15 million out of Sundance 2019 in what was then a record for the festival.

While the director has yet to release an animated film, she has been attached to a couple of animated projects in the past. In 2011, it was announced that she was developing Mumbai-set musical Monkeys of Bollywood at Dreamworks. In 2019, she was revealed to be directing an animated musical adaptation of the graphic novel Pashmina for Netflix.

Based in Bristol, U.K., Aardman is well known for its plasticine stop-motion films and series, which include the Wallace & Gromit and Shaun the Sheep franchises. Its most recent feature, A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, was nominated for an Oscar. Its next film, Chicken Run 2, will be released by Netflix.

In a statement, Chadha said: “Aardman is a Great British national treasure. I am honored and excited to bring my unique British Asian vision to their acclaimed animation studio. Their work has so much heart, humor, and affection, and we share a love of authentic and joyful underdog stories about memorable characters — so it really is a perfect match.”

Peter Lord, creative director and co-founder of Aardman, added: “We are so excited to be collaborating with Gurinder, a truly great director whose beautiful, funny, and warm storytelling we have long admired. Her talent, when combined with the team here at Aardman, promises something new and extraordinary in the world of animation.”

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Alex Dudok de Wit

Alex Dudok de Wit

Alex Dudok de Wit is Associate Editor of Cartoon Brew.

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